Where do you go in Toronto when you’re looking for delicious Greek food? Greektown, of course!
A city that’s known for its cultural diversity, Toronto holds all sorts of festivals throughout the year, showcasing food & culture from all over the world. From Caribana, to Salsa on St. Clair, each festival has something to offer and something to celebrate. But for me, Taste of the Danforth continues to be one of the most enjoyable. It doesn’t hurt that I looooove Greek food. YUM!
But this festival is more that just about the food (although, have I mentioned foooood???). Here are some of the reasons why I love the Taste of the Danforth, and some things I learned during my visit this year.
For a festival that gets so many visitors and covers such a long stretch of a main street, it’s remarkably well set up and organized. There are so many vendors lined up along the sidewalks, but they all generally have a good amount of space, and are set up efficiently.
Most vendors had visible, easy to read signage that listed prices clearly so that passersby could easily see what was available. And speaking of prices, all tasting menu items had to be under $6, so BONUS!
I also noticed that there are a good number of garbage cans around and accessible, which can sometimes be a problem at large events. To be fair, these things get a little worse as the day goes on and the crowds get larger. But overall I was pretty impressed with the set up and organization across the whole street.
Different crowds at different times
As with most festivals, there are different types of crowds, depending on what time of day you’re visiting. I have been to Taste of the Danforth on a weekend night in the past, and it can be a lot of fun. The crowds at night tend to be more adults (or young adults), looking for a good time. The music gets louder, the bars are full and the streets are energized.
This year, however, I opted to attend in the early afternoon on the Sunday, the last day of the festival. The vibe was totally different, but equally as good. The streets were still quite busy, but nowhere near as packed as I’ve seen in the evenings. There were families wandering around with young kids, people who brought their dogs (I immediately regretted not bringing our Golden Retriever, Jack,
thinking it would be too hot and crowded!), and older couples out for a stroll, wandering around eating chicken off a stick. And with all of this, there was still plenty of room to walk around comfortably.
Messini draws the biggest line (for good reason)
For several years now, Messini has been my go-to restaurant for Greek food. By no means am I an expert, but to me it’s just oh so tasty. I usually get the chicken souvlaki pita sandwich that comes with french fries in it. Yes, IN it. If you think it’s crazy, try it. And clearly I am not alone in thinking Messini is the best. Check out the lineup they had already by 11am on Sunday (the photo doesn’t even do it justice).
Instead of standing in line waiting to eat something I’ve had so many times before, we decided to try a place that we’d never tried before. Pan had somewhat of a lineup, though nothing compared to Messini, and the food looked pretty good, so I gave it a shot.
My chicken souvlaki pita was ok. Not great, but not terrible. The sandwich only came with the chicken, tomatoes and tzatziki. Since I don’t like tzatziki that only left, well, tomatoes and chicken. It was tasty at least, but the pita bread was a bit hard.
All in all, if you’re going for the experience and don’t mind just eating something pretty good, you can go anywhere. But if you’re going specifically for the food and want something great, it’s probably worth your while to wait in those longer lines.
Something for everyone
Although the food at the festival continues to be one of the main attractions, there were lots of activities, and fun things for everyone in the family to do. There was even a whole section with carnival games and a Ferris wheel.
Toronto sports teams all had areas set up where people could enter to win swag and other giveaways. And there were several different stages set up where various forms of entertainment could be found performing all weekend long. There was even a Bollywood performance at the celebrity stage when we were there.
As for the food, yes it’s a Greek festival, but there are also other food options to choose from. I saw everything from Thai, to Indian, to Mexican, and even an Oyster stand!
If you live in Toronto, comment below and let me know what your favourite festival of the year is! And if you don’t live in Toronto, let me know what festival in your city you love 🙂